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Making Sense of Church: Eavesdropping on Emerging Conversations About God, Community, and Culture (Emergent YS) Paperback – 1 Sep 2003

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This title provides samplings of online discussions about God, truth, and church - from Our culture is rapidly changing and people are searching for new models and paradigms to find meaning in their lives. As in all transitional periods, this search takes place in grass-roots conversations where the "new" is taking form. No other place so uniquely captures this struggle more than the message boards at, the premier melting pot of emerging spiritual conversation. "Making Sense of Church" is a snapshot of this "community conversation" as it tries to make sense of God in the emerging worldview. It represents a gathering of individuals with different points of view, theologies, life contexts, and feelings. Author Spencer Burke, creator of, provides the framework writing for each chapter and acts as a "guide" to the accompanying e-mail postings that supplement the chapters. Subjects discussed include: Authentic Community; Experiential Worship; The Internet and God; Art as a Vehicle for Communicating Truth; Spirituality and Sexuality; What Is the Church? And what Is Postmodernism?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This book has attitude. The right kind of attitude. 22 Sept. 2003
By Jeremiah Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have to admit that my shelves are getting a bit too full of books that teach us all about postmodernism and how the church should respond. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read another one, but when I saw that Making Sense of Church was written by Spencer Burke, founder of, I knew this one would be worth reading. It's not because he has become a "voice" for postmodern ministry, but because he has enabled so many other voices to be heard.
And that's what makes this book so unique. Spencer gives voice to those who would otherwise go unheard. This is more a collection of viewpoints-often conflicting-than it is a traditional book. Each chapter is a mixture of observations from his personal journey with dozens of posts from TheOoze's discussion boards.
This blending of viewpoints accomplishes what the author hopes the church can do-enter "an era where we can have meaningful, compassionate conversations with each other, no matter where our allegiances lie-modern or postmodern, Eastern Orthodox or Catholic, mega church or house church."
Admittedly, for the first few chapters I felt like this was territory that's already been explored. Some of the ideas are covered elsewhere by popular authors like Leonard Sweet. It's the later chapters that made the book worth it for me. Chapter 7, "Adversary to Ally," makes me carry on some rather uncomfortable internal dialogue. Some of the chapter frustrated or even angered me, which is why this book needs to be read. It forces me to ask some of the questions I don't want to ask, because I'm afraid of the answers I may find. In reality, what I'm discovering is that they actually lead to even deeper and more challenging questions. Which in turn shapes me into a more honest and faithful follower of Jesus.
Can this book be one part of "a bridge between these camps" of modern and postmodern argument within the church? Between conservative and liberal? As I read the book, I can easily see fundamentalists dubbing this liberalism and the liberal camp thinking some of the observations are boringly conservative. Hopefully we can embrace the attitude that this book communicates-an attitude that seeks to understand before it tries to be understood. An attitude of deep, rich, and meaningful conversation.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Metaphors of our Lives and Culture 27 Sept. 2003
By Jordon Cooper - Published on
Format: Paperback
The books is a series of changing metaphors that are hitting culture and our church right now as seen through the eyes and life of Spencer Burke and many of the users of's message boards. The result is this roadmap of change that is happening all around us told through story and rich visual metaphors.
The book is one of the best I have read this year and is one that as a pastor I have ordered for the rest of the churches leadership to read as a starting place to help them find their bearings in a world of changing values and worldviews.
The book is written from the viewpoint of a person who was in church leadership. It looks at many of the changes from that point of view. While the book can be read and understood by anyone, the perspective is that of a leader and shows that point of view. The cool part is that Spencer uses his own pastoral ministry as not a "do like me" but more of "learn from my mistakes and find your own path".
Some of the book has been covered by other authors (but hey, that are all writing on the same topic so some overlap is going to happen) but there were several sections in the book which generated some serious introspective thought and reflection. I have read the book three times now and each time brings out more I need to think through.
Unlike some books on the church by those inside it, Spencer show humility, grace, and a great sense of humor.
The book is not one that you will just read and put down but one of those books that will be re-read years from now. You may want a couple of copies to give away to friends as well (they probably won't want to give it back)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Different metaphors to guide your church 31 Oct. 2003
By Alan Hartung - Published on
Format: Paperback
Spencer Burke offers an insighful view into the metaphors which have been guiding the established evangelical church here in the West. Rather than just a stinging critique of the established church, Spencer offers different metaphors which will help guide the church in this postmodern age.
The contributions by many who post on theooze offer a variety of perspectives and paints an interesting picture of the church in today's age. Spencer brings these conversations from theooze in to each chapter showing this isn't just one man's vision for the church, this is what God is inspiring in the body of Christ.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Conversation for the journey 28 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
In "Making Sense of Church", Spencer Burke describes some of the broader changes in society and then moves on to changes within the church -- trying to bridge a gap between the "emerging" and "established" church.
"It's simply about the questions, hopes, and fears of real people... it's a conversation about church - The Church."
Spencer has done an excellent job of weaving together conversations from TheOooze message boards with his own experiences on various topics: leadership, teaching, growth, ministry, mission, faith and evangelism.
I really appreciated his two identity metaphors for church leadership: the tour guide versus the fellow traveller.
Here's a summary of his points for these two:
Tour Guide: motivated by fear, gets their sense of worth from their position of authority and performance, needs to stick to 'The Route' and keep others on it: my job is to tell you exactly what to do, sits behind the wheel all the time, knows the 'right' and 'best' ways, an expert with a reputation to uphold, believes 'I must know the right answer'
Fellow Traveller: sense of worth comes from Jesus Christ, true to themselves: free to wander and rest when they need to, free to love and be loved, unafraid of making mistakes or losing their position, I'm on the journey and I'm learning from you too, open to finding new ways to do things: 'I don't have to have it all figured out'
Making Sense of Church is a great read -- actually it's my first "postmodern" book that I've read, and I found it reassuring to see others thinking along similar lines to the things I have been wondering about and questioning. Spencer has pulled quotes from a great well of thoughtful, inspiring and encouraging thinkers at TheOoze and I highly commend this book to you.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Conversation for the Puzzle 3 Oct. 2003
By joseph r. myers - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you want to really have an effect on a person's life change their metaphor.
Spencer sees clearly the emerging metaphors. From his perspective (peering in on a conversation at, he has synthesized the story of many on the journey.
Are you trying to help your congregation, family, or yourself live in the changing culture? This is the essential primer!
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